What Is Addiction Treatment Like in Liberia and Other African Countries?

What Is Addiction Treatment Like in Liberia and Other African Countries?

Half of the population of developing countries like Liberia and other West African nations share the same problem as other urban areas around the world: drugs, large-scale urban violence, and crime, especially among poor young men.

Sustainable Transformation for Youth in Liberia (STYL) is an effort to address the particular needs of addiction and other behavioral issues. Substance abuse is one of the long-lasting effects of the stress of a post-conflict nation like Liberia.

Liberia saw two civil wars in 1989 and 2003 that left a significant sector of poor young men. The combination traumas of war and drugs requires dual diagnosis rehab, of which there is too little in their country.

STYL offers a viable option for addiction treatment in a country where the average 25-year-old male has about eight years of schooling, works nearly 50 hours a week at mainly low-skill labor and unlawful work, and earns on average $65 per month. More than half of those reported having committed theft in the last two weeks, and 20% admitted selling drugs. At least 50% of that same group use marijuana or hard drugs daily.

Addiction Treatment for the Impoverished

Two of the best non-profit programs that provide addiction treatment in Liberia offer different approaches to the treatment of substance abuse.

Sustainable Transformation for Youth in Liberia

STYL provides a cognitive-behavioral therapy program. The eight-week program teaches participants a fresh way of dealing with harmful thoughts and behaviors, along with showing them how to use those new skills in real-life settings.

The therapy is led by ex-combatants and reformed street youth and is aimed at cultivating self-control and a new self-image as a part of their community. The study also tests how well high-risk men can handle unconditional cash, with and without therapy. Almost none of that money had been spent on  alcohol, drugs, or other enticements.

The Network for Empowerment and Progressive Initiatives (NEPI) provides groups like STYL with training in short-term psychological intervention like cognitive-behavioral therapy. NEPI training encourages:

  • Groups of about 20 men that meet three times a week for about four hours per session.
  • Visits to the home of participants on days they are not meeting.
  • One-on-one advice and encouragement
  • Random assignment of cash and therapy
  • Follow-up at two and five weeks, and one year.

Teen Challenge – Liberia

Because of limited government-based addiction treatment programs, groups like the non-profit organization Teen Challenge have been welcomed to fill the void of much needed addiction treatment.

Teen Challenge has been granted permission by the government to launch what the organization terms a “cutting edge ministry” for the country. Focusing on a residential care program for males of at least 16 years of age, TC Liberia also provides “Life help” for alcoholics, drug addicts, substance abusers and individuals with life-controlling problems.”


An African youth

The residential program involves:

  • Work Therapy. Proper attitudes toward legitimate work are taught as individuals are assigned to work detail three or more hours both at the TC compound and the local community.
  • Group Therapy. Structured therapy sessions focus on the specific matters relevant to members of the group. Regular daily classes focus on various life-related issues participants face.   
  • Individual Therapy. Involves reality therapy and psycho-synthesis which enable the individual to gain awareness of his body, emotions and experiences. Dealing with the past and working toward the future are emphasized.
  • Music Therapy. A regular part of daily chapel services, residents sing, engage in drama presentations and tell personal stories of being ensnared by addictions and how they discovered freedom.
  • Recreational Therapy. Discovering how to enjoy leisure time without the use of drugs is deemed a vital part of the restoration process.

Addiction Treatment in Guinea-Bissau

Branded Africa’s first narco-state, in Guinea-Bissau there is little available in terms of rehab centers a decade later. One center that is available is that run by 51-year-old Domingos Té. He is very welcome in a country overrun with illegal drugs entering the country on an unprecedented scale.

A vital part of Té’s approach to addiction recovery involves residents being personally involved in the financial support of the center. Each resident is required to pay about $2.50 a day to cover accommodations, food, and hospital trips, if needed.

For Profit Addiction Treatment in West Africa

A complete guide to rehabilitation centers for alcohol in Africa can be found at RehabPath. The site lists three such facilities in or near Libera and another 39 ranging from South Africa to Tunisia.

The three centers nearest Liberia treat men, women, and youth for alcohol and drug abuse as well as emotional issues such as depression. All offer:

  • Group Therapy
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Motivational Counseling
  • Mindfulness
  • Art Therapy

Author Bio: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them. 

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